Stranded On The Lake

Friday, August 4th 2006, 10:29 am

By: News On 6

A Sapulpa family gets a painful lesson after being stranded in the dark for hours in the middle of an Oklahoma lake. Their disabled boat was finally towed to shore and now, one passenger wants to warn others.

As News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin explains, when you leave the dock, don't assume you can just depend upon the kindness of strangers or the Oklahoma Lake Patrol, to come to your rescue.

They only planned on going out for a little while, more than four hours later, in the middle of the night; they had just enough battery power left to flick the lights. Otherwise the boat, with four adults and two kids, was dead in the water. Trisha Stevens: "Screaming our lungs out, we had an emergency whistle on board which we blew, had our emergency flashers going."

But no one stopped to help. "We did not see Lake Patrol, there were 7 boats that went by past us and didn't stop. Finally about midnight we were guessing, some gentlemen on a pontoon boat were nice enough to pull us in." Stevens isn't the first to find herself with a dead battery.

Oklahoma Lake Patrol troopers say they do their best to be where they're needed. Trooper Tony Richardson: "We're out there as continuously as possible." But because of short staffing Lake Patrol has to hit peak boating hours. After that, you could be on your own.

Most boaters know to bring the essentials, like water and a lifejacket, but troopers say communication is the key to safety on the water and having a cell phone on board can mean the difference between getting help and spending the night on the water. “A lot of times people will call and say our friends went to the lake, they should've been back by now, we're not even for sure which lake they went to."

Richardson says before every trip file a 'float plan' with someone at home. "We're going to this lake, we're putting in at this ramp, we're gonna be at this location and we will back at this time."

Trisha Stevens: "always, always, always carry a cell phone if you have one, which we did not. We left in a hurry and didn't think about it since we were gonna be on the water."

Troopers also remind boaters the heat can play a role, affecting your engine just like in your car.

To find out more about how to file a “float plan”, CLICK HERE.

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